Helen Clark calls election for November 8

Clark, whose ruling Labour Party has been well behind the main opposition National Party in opinion polls, made the election announcement in Wellington today.

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New Zealand last went to the polls in 2005, and a fresh election had to be held before November 15 this year.

Ms Clark made the election announcement today in Wellington.

“I do believe the future of New Zealand is at stake. I believe that Labour has shown through its record in office that we can be trusted with the future of New Zealand,” Clark said.

“National's evasiveness, flip-flops and secret agendas show that it cannot be trusted,” she said.

“The general election will be held on the eighth of November,” the prime minister said.

Clark said New Zealand now led the world in many areas, including its emissions trading scheme, biofuel sales obligation and energy efficiency initiatives.

“We have been determined to keep our country clean and green and protect our unique environment,” she said.

“It is not in our country's nature to be mere, fast followers.

“Our record on the economy is strong, with New Zealand well positioned to come through the international downturn,” Clark said.

Labour trailed National by 51 per cent to 37 per cent, according to a survey released last month by TV One, a slight reduction in the gap from earlier polls.

The government has also faced a tough time in parliament recently, with Foreign Minister Winston Peters standing aside from his duties amid a police fraud probe into donations to his New Zealand First party.